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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Being in Love


"I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night." Psalm 63:6

Reading this verse today made me a little giddy. I remembered one night twelve years ago that I laid awake in my bed all night long meditating on the love that had so wholly captured my heart. Lord, may I feel the same way about you...forever.

He knew my favorite movie was Grease. He worked for the auditorium. Grease the musical was coming. Live. To our town.

He gave me two tickets. He couldn't come because he had to work. A friend and I enjoyed the musical together. Just knowing he was somewhere in the building made my heart race. Ah, young love.

We got all dressed up, my friend and I. We enjoyed girly talk and girly music. We sang Greased Lightning and Summer Lovin'. I tried to be discreet but throughout the entire musical my eyes strained in the darkness for a glimpse of my love. After the performance, I tried to casually linger hoping to steal a glance of this special man in my life. My friend promptly called me on the carpet and dragged me home.


Where I laid awake all.night.long.

Hoping.

Praying.

Waiting.

For the phone to ring.

Finally.

It did.

In the wee hours of the morning, he called. He'd waited, he said, for me to page him so he could escape for a minute, come to our seats and say hi. Relief had flooded his young mind when he arrived home to my message on his answering machine.

Being in love is a wonderful floaty feeling. Life ahead is filled with dreams lived in vibrant hues. Life lived is a steady journey. Day by day. Steady. Ups and downs dim the hues to shades of gray. Floating becomes swimming--unless you want to sink. Steady climbing. Tired and travel- weary somewhere in time we quit lying awake all night and begin falling exhausted into deep slumber at our first chance.

Suddenly a memory stirred breaks the monotony. Nostalgia births gratefulness. Realizations. Deep unconditional love has taken root. Swimming has given way to anchoring. Fleeting happiness given way to deep joy. True love is being born. Everyday. Steadily.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Shield


"And Thou, O Jehovah, [art] a shield for me, My honour..." Psalm 3:3

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me and the lifter of my head. The chorus from my youth sings in my head. Reading this verse brings to the surface some questions I have. Prayers I've been praying lately that I haven't quite had the courage to pray aloud. Some private matters between the Lord and I.

Trying to not give them life by speaking them aloud, yet trying to fight them on my knees knowing full well that my battle is not one easily seen with human eyes. So, I've been meditating on parts of Ephesians 6 that I have memorized. I've been praying that I'd be fully armed, ready for the battle, standing firm.
Knowing that I need the Lord in this circumstance. Wondering if He's calling me to action, revealing a strategy to pray or simply calling me to battle, I seek Him. My standard response laid before the Lord. "Here I am Lord, use me. Speak Lord, your servant is listening."

Sometimes the turmoil I struggle with is minute, silly even, to the innocent onlooker. But even the trivial issues must be settled for my soul longs to whisper. It is well.

The revelation I seek is Him. The revelation of I Am that I Am. Jehovah. He is everything to me. The shield of faith is You, Oh Lord, a shield about me. You yourself quench all the fiery darts of the enemy that so shamelessly attack the mind. Protect me, surround me with your unfailing love for Perfect Love casts out all fear.

"...above all, having taken up the shield (thou O Jehovah) of the faith, in which ye shall be able all the fiery darts of the evil one to quench." Ephesians 6:16
Yes, Lord, I'll take you up. I'll choose you when I'd rather choose fear. I'll choose you when it's easier to choose worry. I'll take you up and lift you up in my thoughts and in my prayers. Stop the fiery darts of the enemy as I lift You up Lord. I will raise my hands to You as I lift your name.

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Story Monday--It's Worth the Risk

Because I really want to share all the amazing things God did at the Calvary retreat, I'm just going to jump in even though I haven't given all the background I'd like. Sometimes the best way to share is just to jump...Here goes!

First of all, you should know this is a group of ladies I have been seeking the Lord with for twenty years. Back when I was in college, their church experienced a refreshing of the Lord that was just incredible. An ordinary church experienced a fresh move of an extraordinary God. Somehow a group from College Station ended up falling in love with the Jesus that this church so passionately pursued and the College Station group was born. Through books, seminars, workshops, classes and ultimately their ladies' retreats, I've come to know lots of these ladies and love them all. When you are with a group from this church, you can be sure of one thing: They waste no time warming up; they seek the presence of the Lord full throttle. As their worship leader so aptly put it, "I just say hi God, then deep." I love that!


College people have the time to travel the hour drive to Houston and the hour back lots. Married ladies with jobs and kids and responsibilities do not. This is how I adopted their annual ladies' retreat as my own. There was one thing that set some of us apart from College Station through the years. Once I had experienced worship, seeking and soaking like this, I never wanted to miss it. I have arranged and rearranged my entire year around attending this retreat. I have attended over fifteen Calvary retreats and anticipate many, many more to come!

When Tammy contacted me inviting me to share, I immediately said yes. Excitement filled me instantly. Just as suddenly a flash of fear came. I had no more asked myself what on earth I could possibly share with the ladies who have witnessed most of what God has freed me from when I heard a voice. It was the voice of Steve Meeks, pastor of Calvary. One of his famous saying is, "How do you spell faith? R-I-S-K."

Followed closely by a small whisper. This is a safe place.


I knew this was a place where the risk was minimal but the blessing would be exponential. I knew it would be well worth the risk both this time and in the all the future times He will call me.

As I realized what a gift speaking to these women was, peace and confidence flooded my soul. The Lord showed me that every time I speak from now on, I will see myself in front of those amazing women as I prepare. Many of them are mentors and role models to me that have watched me mature from a barely out of high school nineteen-year-old child to a thirty something mommy of four. I wanted my words to be a gift of repayment to them. I wanted them to see the fruit of their labors. I wanted to be sent out by them, commissioned by the ones whose message I carry. I am part of this church's legacy.

Almost immediately I knew that I was to speak to them the hope of a destiny fulfilled. I wanted them to know that my speaking to them was my destiny, a destiny they'd all had a large part in making. The verse God gave me was Proverbs 13:12. The message being in a nutshell, let's don't defer God's calling...Why not this year?

The message one of hope...Jesus Christ, our Hope.

I didn't correspond much with Tammy after the initial invitation as she is busy with her own family, teaching job and ministry to her parents as her parents stay with her and her father battles cancer at MD Anderson. She, of course, told me to feel free to ask her if I had any questions. I felt the Lord telling me to rely solely on Him. After Tammy's email I felt compelled to pray fiercely for her father but not to ask any questions about the retreat (like what the theme of the weekend would be).

When I arrived Friday night, the theme of the whole weekend was "Hope for My Now."

"Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Friday, April 24, 2009

Stopping to Smell the Flowers












Ya'll, I have so much to tell about. So much!

But, I'm kinda busy right now. Actually, I'm so busy I'm asking the Lord to help me remember it all! Next week I'll start posting what the Lord did, one small part at a time...very, very small because I'm busy, ya'll.

Imagine being away from your four young children for eight days. Can you say mommy deprived? Imagine all the laundry that piled up when I emptied the various suitcases. Pair this with the fact that ladies don't really sleep all that much on ladies retreats and this is the week I've decided to go caffeine free--cold turkey (I'm 72 hours and counting, thank you), begin hitting the gym again and it's one of the busiest weeks of the year for real estate (Yaay!).
Plus, we're continuing our crazy, chaotic, I-think-I've-done-too-much-this-spring schedule with baseball, soccer, softball, homework, church and school activities. Ummm, next year we'll do this a little differently for sure.

Needless to say, I've got lots to do and little time to do it. Remember how the sun stayed up until Joshua won his battle over the Gibeonites in Joshua 10? I'm asking the Lord for another day like that.

In the midst of the fast-moving train called life, we slowed down for a few minutes to enjoy the Texas bluebonnets. I've always wanted to take the children's pictures in them but it always seems like a little more trouble than it's worth.

Every time I've tried to drive to a good patch of bluebonnets in the past, I've had a sleeping baby once I've gotten there. A couple of years ago we went to this gorgeous bluebonnet patch I saw just a week before and they were gone. G-O-N-E.
Easter Sunday I picked the children's clothes with a back drop of bluebonnets in mind. It rained. I ended up letting them, or at least the girls, pick their own clothes and even after it stopped raining, we were too tired to stop.

So, today, I grabbed everyone's black t-shirt, a hairbrush and we set out after school. I had Elizabeth too (our super sweet college-helper-girl who you get to meet in a later post). As it turns out, the hairbrushing wasn't necessary with all the wind, the children didn't really feel like looking at the camera and it was a good thing I had Elizabeth by the side of the road!

Tomorrow I'll be trying to catch up with ya'll but for today, won't you enjoy the flowers with me?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Destiny Fulfilled

I've always been envious when I hear someone say, "My passion is..." Seriously, they may say horses, painting, running, dancing, theatre, decorating, drawing or cooking. It's not the actual activity that I envy; it's the fact that they know what makes their heart beat.

Having a passion has always been a dream. I think I've always known what my passion was, sort of. Like knowing you could be a good cartoonist yet all you've ever drawn until now is landscapes. Does that make sense?

I've been encouraged to write my whole life. Teachers, parents, friends have all told me about writing contests, torn out conference information and even entered my work for me. I have filled up many, many notebooks with words. Yet, somewhere in my heart of hearts, I know although I love to write, I really love speaking publicly.

All through school, I ran for offices, always tried out for narrator and jumped at opportunities to receive training. No matter where I traveled, I seemed to always end up in front of an audience. In college, I spoke to many different audiences including an Aggie muster, an incredible opportunity.

Working with a couple different youth groups while in college, I realized that my dream job would be traveling and sharing my story. This dream was something so deeply rooted in my soul, it became hidden. I never spoke this desire aloud for fear nobody else would think it possible. What if I put myself out there risking humiliation, rejection and failure and flopped? I just could not take that.

After college, I not only ignored the burning desire in my soul, I walked away from it. Instead of taking the narrow path God was calling me to travel, I took the path expected and took to waiting for an opportunity that would birth destiny.

Many, many years passed. The opportunity never came. My destiny became predictable and depressing. Fear, hopelessness and unfulfillment became my constant companions.

Summer camps and retreat experiences have been a part of my life since first grade. Even as a child, I always wanted to be the ones doing the skits, telling the Bible stories and leading the camps. As I got older and youth camps turned into ladies retreats, I began to grow a secret passion for women and speaking to women.

Last year at the Calvary Ladies Retreat, Karen Chaffin shared about walking toward our destiny. I decided that I would not spend another year walking away from mine. I told the Lord I would do whatever it took to move towards it. My prayer was that by the time I turned 40 I would have the character to back my calling. The journey has been rough but so incredibly rewarding.

Speaking on Sunday was a culmination of a year of wrestling with the Lord. He never let go of me even though I tried to wiggle away and settle with so much less. His rugged pursuit of me this past year has left me more vulnerable and more brave than ever. In January, I finally stopped fighting, listened to His voice and responded. It was then I realized all He was asking me to do was to speak aloud what He's been whispering to my heart for many, many years.

I want to speak. I want to share.

Only a few short months later, I am speaking. I am sharing.

I have a passion.

My passion is sharing my story publicly.

"Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord." Psalm 40:3b

PS I will begin posting my message in several parts tomorrow. Right now, I am still processing all the prayers that were answered in one weekend. Even now, as I looked up Psalm 40 in Young's Literal Translation (Thanks, Beth Moore) I was blown away again...the name of the Lord used here is Jehovah...I am that I am.
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Story Monday---Used


He used me!!!

As I shared my story yesterday morning, many emotions flooded through me. Starting with the nervousness and excitement I feel mixing in the pit of the stomach just before take off on a mighty roller coaster. Even though I know it's going to be fun, I still feel a little nausea at the thought.

With every word I spoke, I felt more and more alive. I experienced the type of exhilaration I had been searching for in my life just hours before. Standing in awe of my big and good God I had the privilege of praying for so many ladies with faith so much larger than my own. I had the humbling experience of being used to encourage others to press into Jesus, our Hope, until our destiny is fulfilled.

I was born to be used by Him. I was born to worship Him this way! I found the passion in my life. My passion for Him was released...Broken and spilled out.

Thank you Lord. You used me!

"a wish that comes true is a life-giving tree" Proverbs 13:12b

PS I have so much to share about the weekend and I can't wait to share it with you but because I've been away from home (and that means my children) for 8 days with combined traveling, I will be sharing a little at a time. I just share this quickly so you can praise our God for answering!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hope Speaks

This weekend I'm going on a ladies' retreat. A wonderful retreat, with wonderful ladies that I've known for many years.

This is not your typical retreat. These ladies love Jesus more than any others I've ever been around in my life. Worship will be sweet and powerful and God always does mighty things here.

Please pray for safe travel, open hearts, God's power and me. I'm speaking on Sunday. Pray
that Hope is imparted to these ladies. Pray the Lord gives me a clear vision.

Thank you bloggy sisters!

"It is sad not to get what you hoped for. But wishes that come true are like eating fruit from the tree of life...And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us...by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus our hope." Proverbs 13:12, Romans 5:5 & 1 Timothy 1:1

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Picks



































Nothing better than seeing cute children at Easter. We spent this Easter with two sets of grandparents, lots of cousins and hunted eggs again and again and again. We had a great time celebrating Our Risen Lord.







Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Real Life


I met Bella~Mella!!!

Yesterday I got to meet Melanie. She's just as beautiful in real life; although, she is a tad shorter. She's just as thoughtful with her words. The wisdom just pours forth from her lips.
I love, love visiting with women who are a few steps ahead of me on this journey. I left our short visit greatly encouraged. It was a pleasure to make another bloggy friend a real life friend.
She brightened a rather rainy day here on the coast in Florida.
It was an exciting meeting and I hope to keep adding to the list of bloggy friends I've gotten to meet...and it is nice and sunny today here at the beach!
"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show worthy purpose]." Proverbs 27:17

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rain in the Dark


I am at the beach. I heart the beach. I love sand, sea, surf and sun! But, today it is raining. Pouring really.

For the past couple of years the Lord has been taking me deep on a journey of brokenness. Not that life has dealt me tough suffering of any sort. I am healthy, have a great family and a relatively cushy life comparatively speaking.

Although I'm not sure I have really become any more broken than I already was, I am certainly learning to embrace the brokenness that has always been there. I have quit trying to hide a broken lady behind pretty clothes, cosmetics and "just fine" relationships.

Living in this fallen world has left me broken. Living in this fallen world will continue to touch me in unkind ways. My God is near to the broken. My God heals the broken.

My God became broken so that my brokenness would appear beautiful and useful to Him.

So today I am not disappointed in the rain that falls. I welcome His presence that comes riding on the wind and the refreshing that comes in the spring rain.

Rain was not in my plans for a beach vacation but it was in His plans and as the palm trees sway, almost to the point of brokenness, I see their beauty waving before my eyes. Had there been no wind, I might find myself eyes closed on the beach missing their very presence.

I find my own weakness become more visible in a storm. And when I am weak He is strong.

A few weeks ago God taught me this. I was in my kitchen one afternoon and He told me to grab a flashlight. I did. He said, "Turn it on." I did.

He said, "Does it work?" I had to turn it around and stare into the glass for a long time to see if the batteries worked because the house lights were on, the windows were open and the sun was shining.

He said, "Now turn the lights off." I did. The light became more visible. He said, "Go into the closet." I did. The tiny flashlight that was barely visible in the sunlit kitchen illuminated the entire closet.

The Lord spoke again, "That's why you've walked through darkness."

When we walk through darkness His light illuminates everything around us. The world needs His light to shine. If I never have problems large or small, those around me may not see His light shining brightly.

"In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven...God once said, "Let the light shine out of the darkness!" This is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts by letting us know the glory of God that is in the face of Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves." Matthew 5:16 & 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Place of Rest


"Come to me...and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28

I have a resting place
Where I go to seek Your face
Where I can run to hide
Freely walk by your side

I have a hiding place
Where I go to feel Your grace
Honestly confess my sin
Fully cleansed, once more begin

I have a seeking place
Where I go to find new grace
Come, let Your Spirit flow
Like a river, make me whole

I have a healing place
Where I go to sing Your praise
Here I leave all my hurts
As I yield to Your works

I have a praying place
Where I can receive Your grace
Here You hide me in Your wings
Release to me all good things

I have a sharing place
Where I go to speak Your grace
Telling others of Your love
Salvation come from up above

I have a trusting place
Where I go to know Your grace
Clearly You state Your will
Step by step You lead me still
Please pray with us for safe travel today. I will post as I am able.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Flesh and Blood



Last Sunday at Grace we had a demonstration of a traditional Jewish passover dinner. It was incredible. Really. Everyone talked about it all week. So much was learned, conveyed and reverenced in one hour.


Last night around the dinner table, Andrew led us in our own little passover dinner. We didn't have all the traditional foods but we did have bread and wine. He read God's Word, explained communion, led us in a short teaching and we partook together.


"He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” "After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you." Luke 22:19-20

I then read the Easter story in The Jesus Storybook Bible. As soon as I read about Jesus being broken for our transgressions, I began to weep. I cried so hard, I scared our children.


I was overcome with thanksgiving for many reasons.


I was reminded once again of what He has done for me. Period. I know if there had only been me, He would have still come to earth, died a horrible death and would still be preparing a place for me.

Just me.


Taking communion is such an intimate time with the Lord for me. I find such peace and joy preparing my heart for the act of breaking the bread and sipping the wine, taking the representation of His body into my own. I love the signifying of how much I need Him in me to truly live.


He has rescued this ordinary girl from a life of falling short by His great sacrifice. Participating in the fellowship of communion with my family in such a private setting touched me deeply.

I was just overwhelmed with gratitude for God's presence in my family, around my dinner table, in my husband, in my children. Just incredibly overwhelmed.


Lately, the Lord has had me meditating on the fact that with Him, broken is very beautiful. My brokenness allows Him to be seen through my cracks. This is such a humbling thought.


Last night I saw His brokenness before me anew. My brokenness would just be brokenness, failure and misery without His brokenness.


His brokenness fixed my brokenness.

His brokenness is very beautiful, indeed.


His scars evidence that He lives.

He is risen!


"But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed." Isaiah 53:5

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Beautiful Thing

Originally posted in 2007, I am revisiting Easter thoughts from past years tonight and I thought you might enjoy them too.
This Easter I've been struck with the power of the cross all over again.


God so desired to have a right relationship with us, He sent Jesus, His only son to earth. Jesus was all God and all man. Jesus lived a perfect life yet it was filled with suffering...For us.

"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering..." (Isaiah 53: 2b and 3a)

Beth Moore has an essay titled, "Beautiful." She says, "You know, I've never been a person who saw things like anyone else...Perhaps love is blind. On the other hand, perhaps only love can truly see. Because, my Christ, my Hope, I want you to know...You were always beautiful to me."


I happen to agree.

"But he was pierced for our transgressions...and by his wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)

He loved us so much he didn't just suffer one wound that drew blood. He was pierced seven times. I heard this quote from a friend and it has touched me in a very deep place. "Blood flowed from His head, back, side, hands and feet. Seven places." He wasn't just pierced once for us. He, The King of Kings and Lord of Lords was pierced seven times for us.

When once would have been enough. He was pierced seven times.


He was pierced in seven places to totally cover us in his blood. Seven places that need covered and purified by his blood.


"His hands cover the sinful things we've done with our hands. His feet cover the places of sin we've walked. His back covers all the times we've turned our back on Him, and His side, which is really from His heart, allows our hardened hearts to be softened. It is all about His blood and the fact that we're being covered by it at all points." says Seth Gilbert of the contemporary Christian band, Seven Places.

"He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth." (Isaiah 53:5)

Jesus is to be our example in all things. This means how we handle suffering of any kind. Jesus accepted his Father's plan for his life...It was death, to become an atoning sacrifice for mankind.

How do I sacrifice myself for those I love? Am I silent when the mountains of laundry threaten to overtake our home? Am I silent when one or more children are up all night with viruses? Am I silent when pressures of many kinds threaten to overwhelm me? Am I silent when I myself am ill or suffering physically?

All too often, the answer is no. I whine, I complain, I "serve" with a grumpy and sluggish attitude. Forgive me, Lord. My sufferings are so small compared to yours!

"After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities." (Isaiah 53:11)

It is our suffering that leads us to see Jesus, the Light of Life. After we have suffered and come through it, we are satisfied. Only Jesus can satisfy so through suffering, we must find Jesus.


Praise God there is a wonderful purpose in suffering!

"For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53: 12b)

I love the fact that Jesus is praying for me. The ultimate act of intercession was made on the cross where he gave his perfect life as a sacrifice to allow me (and you) to have a relationship with him, with God here on earth and in heaven one day.

Jesus stepped in to give something that I will never have to give. Even if I wanted to give my life, I will never have a perfect life to give. Jesus did something no other human can ever do. He gave a perfect life, a blood sacrifice, to pay the price of all mankind's sin.

I would give my life in an instant for my children. But, would I sacrifice it for a stranger? Would I be willing to leave my children motherless, my husband a widower just so some strangers could go to heaven and be with Jesus one day? I guess Jesus didn't do this for TOTAL strangers...We were each one created by God in the image of One who knows us intimately.


So much to ponder.

Spend time this Easter reflecting and meditating on what Jesus did for us. Spend time in Isaiah 53, the Old Testament prophecy of God's eternal plan for the redemption that was to come.


This is where I'll be this Easter.

"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering...But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed...He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth...After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities...For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53:2b,3a,5,7,11 and 12b)

He is risen! Thank God for the power of the cross. He is risen, indeed!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Enough

(This year's Easter post is part of Angela's Easter carnival. Go visit to be encouraged!)

The power of the cross lies in and of the fact that it held no power. The cross could not keep our Lord dead.

As a woman I hear lies whispered in my ear all day long. I am told I am not good enough, perfect enough, orderly enough, gentle enough, energetic enough...I am not enough. The worst kinds of lies are the true lies. You know the ones. These are the lies that take something truthful about you and blow it so out of proportion it once again, becomes about you instead of about Christ in you.

My deepest desire is to be a godly wife, mother, friend and lady. I have walked this journey long enough to know that I cannot do this without Him. Not for one single second can I walk on my own two feet in my own strength. The power in my life lies in and of the fact that it has no power...without His. My life, like the cross, has no power apart from Him.

Truthfully, I do not have what it takes to become like Him. I desperately need Him to work in me so that He, not I, will shine through me. Every.single.day.all.day.long I try. My heart so longs to honor my Savior that every.single.mistake breaks my heart. In a perfect world with no sin, sickness or sadness, I could receive Him and stop making mistakes.

Yet in our fallen world, the lies whispered and judgments conveyed make me feel shame, condemnation, inadequacy and inferiority. The odd thing is the condemnation itself reminds my mind that these are lies. Romans 8:1 tells me "There is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus."

Apart from Him the cross has no power. It remains an instrument of death. Just like my life. With Him the cross is transformed into a symbol of life and victory. Just like my life!

I am so thankful that the blood that flowed from His side down the foot of a wooden cross and poured over the sin soaked earth is still sinking into my world. I am so aware that I need the blood that flowed so long ago to flow over my heart each day. I am so thankful that the blood that flowed is still forgiving and still cleansing today. I am so thankful that the sacrificial Lamb is still enough...He is enough.

Precious is the blood that is still forgiving, still cleansing, still renewing, still satisfying after all these years. That blood of my precious Redeemer is bathing my life with purpose. That blood that flowed from Heaven Himself into a sin soaked world is still buying freedom and life for anyone who believes today...Anyone who believes that the power of the cross lies int he fact that it couldn't kill True Life. Perfect Love conquers even death!

"If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]." 1 John 1:9

So glad He lives!!!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Speaking of Bragging...


Hunter was just awarded the game ball at his teeball game. He hit the ball really high in the air all the way to the outfield each time. As the last batter, he cleaned up the bases sliding into home plate each time. He ran so fast he passed up the runner before him beating him home!

He played catcher, covered home and tagged two runners! A mean first baseman, he stopped almost everything thrown at him!

Most importantly, we played his good friend Carsen's team and when Carsen made it to first base, Hunter gave his friend the thumbs up sign! A great player with awesome sportsmanship is the making for a pro baseball player with fine character.

Look out MLB my son's playing teeball!

Mommy's Brag Blog

The day I brought my first newborn home from the hospital was a wonderful day! I remember very distinctly thinking, "I'm gonna miss this."

I'm one of those crazy people who love, love, love newborns. Cooking dinner with a ten or fifteen pound baby slung over my shoulder was a joy. I loved the feeling of that weight. It feels like your favorite book in your backpack.

Getting up several times a night and choosing to fold a load of laundry at 1:00 AM just because you know the baby's gonna wake up at 1:30 was always an easy choice. Nurse, diaper, rock, rest. It was a routine I followed for five years. Five long years in many ways but five short years in many, many more ways.

Then my oldest started kindergarten and I had number four.

When I brought him home the very distinct thought I remember was, "No matter how many more times I do this, I'm not the young mother of preschoolers anymore. sniff. sniff. sniff."

For the next couple of years I went through a denial of sorts. I became angry when I couldn't be at home folding laundry and was instead running errands, buying school supplies and attending meetings.

Frustration overwhelmed me that I wasn't able to mop or vacuum while the baby was sleeping because I was in the car all afternoon. I spent a great deal of my time wishing I was somewhere else. I was saddened that I was always wearing a baby instead of rocking one quietly in my nursery.

When I was a newlywed and dreamed of my future, it was me with preschoolers, toddlers and babies around my knees. It wasn't windblown crazy woman with children hanging out of her Suburban. Crazy woman had grown accustomed to life on the run, eating meals in the car and organizing the back of said Suburban like an athletic locker.

It seems like most of the time these days I scream, panic and rush. "Get your gear." "Get in the car." "Hurry!"

After yesterday's post and reading this, I thought it was only appropriate that I brag on my amazing kiddos a little bit. I was so into this bragging thing last week when I first saw it. I began to feel that old mother guilt. The stuff that creeps in when you feel your kids have empty love tanks because you haven't cheered for them enough. I hate that. Nobody loves them more than me and they should know that. Period.

I should build them up so much that they actually appreciate my honesty with them when confronting issues. Honestly, I'm not sure we're there just yet. Hence, the bloggy brag.

Driving around town in my car early last Saturday morning, I was praying. Actually I was telling God how this season is so hard and I just won't miss a thing about it. wah.wah.blah.blah. As I pulled up at the softball field last Saturday morning, after just leaving the soccer field and just before arriving at the baseball field, the Lord spoke to me. "Enjoy their games as a chance to cheer wildly for them."

That's it. Sports give me an opportunity to yell for kids in ways I don't do all the time. I get to scream at the top of my lungs, "That's my kid!" I enjoy that. I love watching them play.

Even though I never saw me as a thirty-something-year-old soccer mom in my dreams, suddenly, I'm loving every minute of it. At least every minute of cheerleading God has given me.

My kids are awesome so let the bragging begin!

Julia is my artist. A born leader, she's extremely influential and makes the rules that others follow. She's an organizer of people, aggressive athlete and goal reacher. She's charismatic, loves attention and any kind of gift. She's dramatic, beautiful, fashionable and artistic. A gifted artist she can draw beautifully. She's smart, independent and loving.

Alyssa is my author. A gifted artist, she's highly creative spending many hours each day writing stories and poems. She's a colorful story teller and sketches with great detail. She's responsible, cleans her room each and watches baby brother with care. She's beautiful, helpful and friendly. She always befriends the underdog, outcast and lonely. She's super compassionate and gentle. She has a beautiful singing voice and uses it daily to praise God.

Hunter is my helper. A gifted athlete, he's very coachable, listening and following every instruction. He's a good friend and would sacrifice anything to make his friends happy. He routinely asks me what he can do to help and rarely complains when asked to do something. He's amazing me as he rapidly learns to read. He'll try anything we ask him to and overcomes his many fears easily. He's handsome, sensitive and obedient.

Palmer is my adventurer. A curious explorer, he's been found in many hilarious places. He is the most active kid I've ever known full of explosive energy. Running and climbing are second nature to him. At two he potty trained himself and at three he's teaching himself to read by doing the same homework Hunter does. He can kick a soccer ball down the field and climb up on top of anything in the house by himself. He loves as fiercely as he lives. When I tell him to give me a kiss he says, "No a big kiss," and proceeds to hug me with all of his might. He's determined, vivacious and so, so cute. He's loving and cuddly and sweet.

My kids are so much more than this. They amaze me every day with their abilities and imaginations.

The three older children have each finished their Awanas books this year against some major odds and bless me with their desire to hear me read the Bible to them each night. I love to hear their little voices pray and I love it even more when they ask me to pray or sing over them.

Even though I love them so very, very much I pray they always know that He is their ultimate Cheerleader.
"For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Equipment

We are in the midst of baseball season. Sports are in full swing here. Softball, teeball and soccer. These days it's all about the equipment. For girls, pink rules the uniforms. Pink cleats, pink gloves and pink helmets are all the rage. My 6 and 7-year-olds wear their batting gloves like pros. These kids get their confidence from their gear. My daughter really feels like she can't run her fastest because she needs new cleats.

Have you ever felt like you were ill-equipped to play a game? Have you ever been trying to run your fastest in ill-fitting shoes?

I am in a season where the equipment speaks to me. I feel like I am trying to play this parenting game with unattractive equipment lately. Last week was a hard week. I felt really ill-equipped. I'll be honest here. Many days lately I've felt so unfit to mother my children. My cleats are no longer pink and my gloves are just plain worn out.

They are all at an age where they need me. Oh, they wish they were independent but they need their mom's help more than they sometimes care to admit. Getting the three older kids to school, dressed in matching clothes, with shoes on, backpacks loaded, lunches in tow and with the three-year-old strapped in the car seat is sometimes more than I can handle before 7:30 AM! Then we rush home, take a shower, eat breakfast, fix Palmer's lunch and we're off for our day.

Lately, everyone has been late. Everywhere.

I wonder how mothers of multiples get their kids where they need to go with their necessary stuff successfully. Most days success eludes me. Every single second of every single day is filled with need. Drop off the kids, help the husband, pick up the kids, help the kids, drive the kids, feed the kids, bathe the kids, visit with the husband...if I can still string words together.

Feeling like life is strung together by needs and responsibilities instead of with joys and blessings will stir inadequacy in your soul like nothing else can.

Each second has been a heartcry for miracles. I so desire to see fruit in my children's lives I can forget that growing an orchard of trees that faithfully produce said fruit takes many, many seasons of constant nurture for each small sapling. Water, prune, stake, fertilize, protect. The needs are ever present.

Quiet happens here in my home for about eight hours out of each twenty-four. Most people sleep during those hours. I fore go sleep regularly to spend time in God's Word and prayer. Last week I spent many of these hours in tears begging for the strength to parent. Trusting God knew what He was doing when He gave us allthesekids. Thankful that my dream of a large family was realized yet desperate for Him to touch the mother who needsmuchhelpmothering.

I just kept praying, "I am so ill-equipped. I am so not equipped for this. Why did you think I could do this well?" Over and over, "Lord, I am not equipped."

He spoke to me in the early in the treasured silence.

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT)

He reminded me that I have all the equipment I need.

Monday, April 06, 2009

My Story Monday--Slumdog Millionaire


If you remember my life began this way. By the time I was a teenager most all of my dreams had dissolved into desiring a love story and family of my own. From a young age I believed and became increasingly convinced that a really swoony, romantic love story and a strong, handsome man that would sweep me off my feet instantly and spoil me rotten for the rest of my dreamy life would make me feel the specialness I was lacking.

As soon as I had that part of my life together, God would be free to make all my other dreams come miraculously true. God did bring me Andrew. It hasn't been all hearts and roses. But it has been music and sunflowers.

I read a post by Laura this week. A phrase stuck in my mind causing me to think and rethink about parts of my life that I've long tried to forget. "As long as there is love, there is always the possibility of resurrection." I'm learning no life experience is simply only worth forgetting. There is no shame in our failures. The only shame comes from not allowing Love's possibility of resurrection to bring the redemption of something greater from that which was lost.

Slowly, God is revealing His love story to me. He's showing me that authentic love doesn't have to start instantly and flow flawlessly. The main element to a fairy tale romance is the ending...And they lived happily ever after.

This weekend Andrew rented Slumdog Millionaire. He'd already seen it but wanted me to watch it with him. Before he started the movie, he bought me flowers and told me how much he loved me. He said the movie was good in lots of ways but the thing that most connected him with Jamal, the main character, was how much he loved the girl. He told me, "I love you like this." Then he started the movie.

Watching this movie changed me. I instantly fell in love with Jamal but it was Latika's life that moved me so deeply. She was a streetwise girl who would've survived just fine without Jamal. But there he was inviting her in out of a cold, hard rain. She was unprotected and alone yet strong and resilient. I identified with her immediately.

All the things Latika was I am. I have felt so alone. I have longed for protection. I have needed resurrection where I let destiny die. I need constant pursuing so that I never forget the truth of who I really am.

I saw the story of Andrew and me in this movie. I saw the story of Jesus and me in this movie. Just because I've felt unprotected doesn't mean it was so. Just because I've felt lost and abandoned doesn't mean it was so. Just because I've felt forgotten and used up doesn't mean it was so. Just because I said no one time or twenty doesn't make our love less strong. Just because the first rescue effort was unsuccessful didn't lessen the impact of ultimate salvation. Just because resurrection was slow in coming doesn't mean love ever lost its power or the hope ever really died. Just because it was meant to be my whole life doesn't mean it will come easy or even early for that matter. But because it is written it will surely be.

Latika and Jamal would come together many times in the story but life and hard, hard circumstances would separate them time and time again. Latika went through many painful, tough, heartbreaking situations. These circumstances were not a result of her own sin or selfish choices. They were simply the result of living in a fallen world full of the sin of mankind. Jamal would rescue her several times if only for a short while. The sin of others would then take her out of his protective hands and she would be in a place that seemed to be out of his grasp.

Jamal would prove that nowhere Latika could ever end up would be too far away from him. Throughout her life, Jamal never stopped searching for her. He used his fortunes over and over again to hunt for his lost love and to fulfill his destiny and hers.

Every opportunity he was given, he used to flame his undying love for Latika. Even when it seemed hopeless, even when she told him to stop, even when his own life was threatened, he kept pushing, searching, sacrificing, loving and waiting.

I became so moved as I realized that unfairness and this fallen earth had dealt her some crazy blows. I connected with something in the suffering of her character.

I began to see my life differently. As I sat weeping I saw parts of my life as written by the hand of a sovereign God instead of as punishment resulting from my own inadequacies. I saw Providence working throughout my own life. I saw me as a hurting child crying out in anger wondering where He had gone. As a lonely adult I remembered thinking that surely I was not worth remembering. But just as Jamal had always been there, He had not gone anywhere. He was still there loving me, reaching for me, calling out to me. I just could not see Him through the brokenness of a sinful nature.

I saw great beauty in the brokenness of their love story. If Latika had said yes to Jamal the first time, the deep appreciation she felt for her rescuer may not have been born.

I saw part of yesterday's sermon lived out "You have to experience the bitterness of slavery to enjoy the sweetness of freedom." In order for Latika to have the courage to become redeemed and fully reconciled to Jamal she had to be rescued time after time.

She had to share his belief that it was not too late. She had to buy into his life's ambition that she was worth loving. Worth saving. He never doubted that it was worth the risk to experience her love. It was their destiny.

It was written.

"It is written so that you will put your faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. If you have faith in him, you will have true life." (John 20:31)

Friday, April 03, 2009

She Speaks Still

Today the She Speaks scholarship winners were announced. Although I didn't win, I was stretched and blessed beyond measure by the process of entering. God shared with me early on that the first step in getting to attend She Speaks (whether this year or in the future) was to enter this contest and breathe words into my, until now, silent dream. Just as God breathed life into this world by speaking, He's calling me to breathe life into my dreams by speaking them outloud and not just to myself but to others. My responsibility in this adventure is to simply obey. I know the journey is just beginning and I can't wait to take the next step!

"And God said...And it was so...And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:24-25

You should definitely go here to meet the winners. You will leave blessed. I promise.

And, in case you're wondering if I was struggling with any discouragement or doubt today...God had me booking a trip for just my fabulous hubby and me here!!!
Feast your eyes on this!

Thank you, Jesus, I know that no matter where you take me next it will surpass my wildest dreams. I am forever indebted to You.

"No one's ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him.But you've seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you." 1 Corinthians 2:9 The Message

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Live Quietly


If you've been at my house you know that my house is rather crazy most of the time. It's loud. It's chaotic. It usually appears to be disorganized. I've come to realize that although I love order, schedules and organization, I have that artist's mentality. The one that has piles all over the studio and knows exactly what is in each pile. Therefore, I am creatively organized. My life isn't insanely chaotic, it's creatively organized. Friends have even described me as living in organized chaos.

Most of the time this does not bother me. Sometimes life is a little more crowded than others and that's when I'm bothered. I can usually keep perspective on piles and dirt by just glancing at my growing kids. When my eyes stay focused on my kitchen counter or bathroom floor too long, I get discouraged. When I'd like to focus my eyes and energy on my kitchen counter or bathroom floor instead of softball practice, homework and dinner, I get discouraged.

I've been rather discouraged this week. Battling blue emotions always invites me to introspection. I want to know why. I want help. I want fixing. I figure if I can wrap my head around it, my heart will soon follow. This time I was angry at my heart. Why, after all these years, is my head still having to tell my heart to get in line with God's truth? Can't I just experience a moment where my heart tells my head to quit thinking and start trusting?

Some experiences this week have brought me to question where my hope is resting. Once again. It's not like this is a new phenomenon to me. I got this picture of my elbows on a table. Yes, my hope is firmly resting in Christ. This week my elbows have been resting on the table of circumstance. When the winds of change blew through my life, I faltered for a moment. Then I fell forward straight onto the chest of my Father. So although my elbows were resting elsewhere, my weight was on my Father. When my elbows gave way, there He was, a soft place to land.

Life has been super busy. My mind even busier. I wonder if I can chop any responsibilities in order to seek quiet. I realize it wasn't so many years ago when although quiet was elusive, it could be found. When I was the mother of all preschoolers, I could go for days and days without ever leaving my house. Naptimes were scheduled, sacred times of quiet. I needed quiet in my life. God was building quiet in my heart.

Now my life is loud. My life moves quickly. Quiet escapes me. Stillness only occurs between 10:30 PM and 6:00 AM. Period. No exceptions. I needed that taste of quiet so I would be willing to stay awake for it today.

Today I can honestly say that even in the midst of creative organization and organized chaos my heart and life is quieter than it was several years ago during naptime.

I'm so glad that when the winds of change blow, my feet are planted on the Immovable Rock.

"I've kept my feet on the ground, I've cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother's arms, my soul is a baby content." (Psalm 131:2)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Mommy's Little Helper

This is what I found after a large commotion during naptime. He figures if he doesn't want to nap, he can at least help. Right? The vacuuming came after he had tried to sweep and mop the kitchen floor. He's one smart kid!
You know, really smart because after he wee-weed in a bowl on my kitchen floor, he got the Swiffer and tried to mop up the droplets that spilled. On my kitchen floor. And after he clogged my toilet with an entire roll of Charmin, he found the plunger and plunged. All by himself. Then just in case it was dirty, he got the brushy thingy you clean the toilet with and swished it around in the soggy, dirty potty. And put the brushy thingy back in its brushy case and cleaned the soggy, stinky floor with my new animal print hand towel. Without even telling me about it. He's super responsible.
He's a self-starter. He doesn't allow himself to get bored. He rarely sleeps. He sweeps. He mops. He vacuums. He even cleans the toilets. All alone. Unsolicited. No compensation necessary. Who needs a maid anyway? They're totally overrated!
Who needs a nap, for that matter? Some would say they're overrated. See what I would've missed?